A 20th-century battleground east of Chicago between industrialists seeking to build more steel mills and conservationists wanting to preserve natural diversity, in 1966 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was created as a compromise between the opposing sides. Its scattered bogs and dunes surround a beachside state park on Lake Michigan that dates back to the 1920s, with an Art Deco bathhouse dating to that era.
West Beach, Mount Baldy, Glenwood Dunes Trail, heron rookery
It is worth the price of admission to access the trail system within Indiana Dunes State Park to complete the 3 Dunes Challenge. Take your photos back to the joint NPS-State Park visitor center to claim your prizes.
Cowles Bog Trail covers 5 rugged miles and accesses an isolated beach with views of the Chicago skyline.
Beach grasses with a backdrop of a steel mill are a surreal mix on the Cowles Bog Trail.
The park is open year round, with the Lake Michigan beaches attracting crowds in the summer.
No admission for most of the National Lakeshore, except $6 per vehicle for summer lifeguards at West Beach and $12 per vehicle day use fee year round to enter Indiana Dunes State Park.
All roads are paved.
While it is not on the beach, we enjoyed the quiet Dunewood Campground (fee) with its hot showers.
Explore More – Mount Baldy stands 126 feet tall, but how much shorter is that than Mount Tom in neighboring Indiana Dunes State Park?